Got something in self storage? What you need to know amid rising thefts

Artist Tina So moved from Hong Kong to Vancouver years in the past and wanted a storage locker for some art work and family heirlooms.

She signed up with Sentinel Storage in Richmond, B.C., comforted through the promise of a state-of-the-art security gadget.

That confidence was shaken whilst So opened her garage unit in August.

“i could not believe my eyes,” she instructed Go Public. “I double-checked the door. i assumed I entered another person’s locker.”

Her leading paintings from the earlier ten years, other artwork she had collected, circle of relatives tableware and different heirlooms — all had been long gone.

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“the first factor I did was run to the lobby and inform them that something’s long gone incorrect!”

It used to be the start of a mystery So says will not be arduous to unravel, for the reason that Sentinel Storage advertises that it is a gated property with round-the-clock security, video surveillance and individually coded get right of entry to to doorways and gates.

“You supply the whole thing that may be useful to them and there is no make sure that they’ll keep it well,” said So.

Thousands of individuals across the country have positioned their personal belongings in public storage, making a $NINE-billion industry in Canada according to a January record through analysis corporate IBISWorld.

on the same time, the pandemic has led to industry closures and task losses, driving an increase in robbery from self-storage amenities, says security knowledgeable Alex Vourkoutiotis, leader era officer at Caliber Communications in Hamilton, an organization that provides various types of company safety.

“Mass layoffs cause robbery increase. It Is an unlucky byproduct, however it is a fact,” Vourkoutiotis said. 

Got something in self storage? What you need to know amid rising thefts

Thieves left at the back of a handful of items, together with a crack pipe which the RCMP retrieved for possible DNA research. (Submitted through Tina So)

There are not any national statistics, but Vourkoutiotis says he and associates within the trade have spotted a definite spike in storage crime.

Theft makes an attempt at amenities his corporate screens have virtually tripled — from 135 in 2020 to 348 within the first ten months of 2021.

A spokesperson for Sentinel Storage mentioned no one was once available for an interview to talk about So’s case, but despatched an announcement, saying the company was once “absolutely sorry concerning the loss,” that security is “elementary” to its provider and that it really works carefully with regulation enforcement when robbery has happened.

Sentinel Garage is owned through the largest participant in Canada’s self-garage industry, Toronto-based Storage Vault, which gave So confidence while she signed as much as hire a locker for about $175 a month, together with a mandatory insurance plans that’s common within the industry.

“The building seemed very secure,” mentioned So. “and they advertised 24-hour surveillance. So i believed, ‘This is the place.'”

So and her husband visited the locker in March 2020. 

Got something in self storage? What you need to know amid rising thefts

Inside The Sentinel Storage facility in Richmond, B.C., the place So mysteriously misplaced all of the contents of her garage locker. (Submitted by Tina So)

As A Result Of the pandemic, the following time they checked was once in August 2021 — once they found out the theft. Company data stated no person else had entered the locker.

While So first signed up with Sentinel, she was steered to use a code on a keypad to open a sliding door.

She was informed that each consumer will get their own access code and that her code used to be the ultimate seven digits of her telephone number.

“They did not tell us that we will modification it,” stated So. 

The Usage Of a private phone quantity for an get entry to code will also be a safety issue, says Vourkoutiotis, as a result of any individual who is aware of you or can see a purchaser’s number within the system will understand the code.

“we propose in opposition to that,” he mentioned. Nonetheless, he says, garage corporations often do it “because coping with the code machine turns into difficult.”

Got something in self storage? What you need to know amid rising thefts

The RCMP constable who investigated says Sentinel Garage didn’t have video surveillance of the theft. (Submitted through Tina So)

The padlock at the locker appeared to be untampered and the door was once no longer jimmied. The walls and ceiling of the storage unit were intact.

None of it is sensible to So. 

“it’s not a Houdini box,” she stated, regarding famous get away artist Harry Houdini.

Policies switched 

much more puzzling, a Sentinel worker had erroneously cancelled her obligatory $FIVE,000 insurance coverage, and positioned another consumer’s $2-million policy under her account.

It used to be a “clerical error” Sentinel admits, but visible to anyone who had access to the interior machine, prompting so that you can ponder whether it’ll have piqued hobby in the contents of her locker.

Adding to her frustration, So says Sentinel Storage refused to respond to a lot of her questions — so she posted her enjoy on Facebook and different systems, calling the corporate “totally unreliable, negligent and never devoted.”

Got something in self storage? What you need to know amid rising thefts

This 2013 portray by So, titled Into the Storm, is one among many artworks stolen from her locker. (Submitted through Tina So)

Others have shared similar stories, approximately storage companies massive and small, including those owned through Sentinel. Dale Ladoon of Edmonton says his Sentinel locker was once broken into ultimate month, however the corporate didn’t allow him understand for 3 days.

“Mainly, Sentinel did not assist at all,” he writes in an internet review on Trustpilot. 

Rob McNeill writes on Google Reviews that his Lethbridge, Alta., locker used to be damaged into in Might and there were “items stolen, no observe up.”

Lily Love additionally posts on Google Critiques that her Sentinel locker in Coquitlam, B.C., was once damaged into in March and “they did not contact me approximately it ’til 4 months later!”

Sentinel said it could not comment on unhappy customers “to keep up the integrity of ongoing investigations.”

The missing video

Such A Lot garage facilities have safety cameras and market it their surveillance as a promoting aspect. Sentinel would not tell Move Public whether it has any video footage of So’s theft and stated it couldn’t screen how lengthy photos is saved, so as not to compromise any security features.

but the RCMP constable investigating So’s case informed her that Sentinel doesn’t have any video of the theft.

WATCH | Cherished belongings disappear from garage locker:

Got something in self storage? What you need to know amid rising thefts

Liked belongings stolen from self-storage in spite of safety claims | Cross Public

6 hours ago


A Vancouver girl who saved cherished belongings in a self-garage facility is frustrated after her pieces have been stolen in spite of promises of 24-hour security. Mavens say garage robbery has turn out to be a growing drawback through the pandemic. 2:11

“It’s Very disappointing,” mentioned So. “the entire function of having 24-hour surveillance cameras is to make use of it when something happens. it isn’t a prop.” 

The strongest coverage from robbery comes whilst those cameras are monitored around the clock through a third-party surveillance company, says Vourkoutiotis — which is what his corporate does for industries ranging from self-garage to auto dealerships to utilities.

“for those who do not have an energetic, monitored machine, then you definitely run the risk of simply entering into after the fact and perusing video photos — that may or would possibly not exist — to figure out what happened or maybe who did it,” he stated.

Cross Public randomly called 20 public storage amenities, from Victoria to St. John’s, to invite approximately video surveillance. The places are owned by the rustic’s 10 largest garage companies — including StorageVault, U-Haul, StorageMart, Public Garage and Apple Self Storage — to invite about video surveillance.

All The corporations mentioned they use security cameras. Some simplest use cameras on the entrance/exit to a facility, others had cameras inside of, on the loading bays and down corridors.

Got something in self storage? What you need to know amid rising thefts

Security knowledgeable Alex Vourkoutiotis says video surveillance pictures is often best stored for four to 6 weeks. (Keith Burgess/CBC)

None of the workers may just say how long the video footage from the ones cameras is saved — a few guessing “a few months,” others suggesting it could be to be had “for years.”

None of the companies hired 3rd-birthday celebration monitoring in their premises and none mentioned the cameras have been watched 24/7, the workers stated. 

“in the event that they do not have a monitored device, however you’re fascinated by the usage of their products and services, i would discover what roughly processes they installed position to verify that the camera system remains operational,” said Vourkoutiotis.

“And a minimum of know how long they retailer pictures.” Because such a lot puts he is acutely aware of don’t save video footage longer than 4 to 6 weeks, Vourkoutiotis recommends consumers check in on their garage gadgets once a month.

Sentinel said it will honour So’s authentic insurance coverage and that she can document a declare — as long as she provides receipts for the stolen items.


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“that is kind of extraordinary,” mentioned So. “you don’t store your receipts on your family heirlooms.”

She’s patiently waiting for the results of the police research, however is shedding desire that anything else will come of it. within the period in-between, So has contacted native art galleries and equipped footage of a few of her stolen paintings.

She’s offering a $5,000 reward for any knowledge a good way to lend a hand remedy the theft. “i would like to discover the truth,” she said. “What happened is heartbreaking and devastating.”

Got something in self storage? What you need to know amid rising thefts

So says she used to be told to make use of the closing seven digits of her telephone quantity to get entry to the realm along with her garage locker. a security professional says that’s bad protection. (Erica Johnson/CBC)

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